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Just by glancing at the album art, you can probably tell what you're getting yourself into when it comes time to listen to "Ruler of the Wasteland." This is epic heavy/power metal of top form with plenty of Judas Priest and Maiden worshiping going on. Chastain is a band that is for some reason, not as popular as they should have been. I rarely ever see mentions of this band on the internet and I stumbled across them by accident myself, but I'm fucking glad that I did. The band's first record "Mystery of Illusion" honestly isn't anything worth writing home about, as it's solid, but it just can't compete with this greatly improved sophomore album, a record boasting epic atmospheres, catchy hooks and fantastic melodies throughout.
"Ruler of the Wasteland" starts off with the title track and immediately the listener is grabbed by the shredding solos and the catchy Judas Priest-inspired riff that follows. But then the vocals come in, and I'm sure if I didn't tell you or you didn't look it up yourself, you would never guess that Chastain was fronted by a female in Leather Leone. Her vocals are plenty aggressive (well, as far as power metal goes. Think David Wayne of Metal Church), but there are also plenty of moments where she hits the real high notes and she does so with the greatest of ease. The range of Leone's vocals is a definite highlight on this album, as it provides the listener with some added variety to the already varied music. Some of the tracks are typical power metal tunes that feature typical riffage and shredding solos galore, with "One Day to Live" and "Fighting to Stay Alive" being the main ones to follow this archetype. Tracks like "The King Has the Power" and "There Will Be Justice" travel a more unorthodox route, using the bass as the focal point of the music at points and mixing in the acoustic sections with the rest of the music, but the songs are fine nonetheless.
Of course, I said Chastain has their epic material and that's really when they're at their best. "Angel of Mercy" is the best track on "Ruler of the Wasteland" with its chilling intro, terrific riffs, stellar melodies and solos, and of course the soaring vocals that top everything off. I guarantee this song will be stuck in your head for a while. "Living in a Dreamworld" and "The Battle of Nevermore" are also pretty epic in their own right, though they just can't measure up to the brilliance of "Angel of Mercy" (Then again, that would be asking too much). "Ruler of the Wasteland" is just another awesome album that came out in the year where so many masterpieces were released that it unfortunately got lost in the shuffle, but that's no reason to doubt the top-notch material here, so check out Chastain immediately or heads will roll...
"Ruler of the Wasteland"
"Angel of Mercy"
"Living in a Dreamworld"
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.
After hearing this release and "The Voice of the Cult", I'm really surprised there's hardly any reviews for this band here, so far. This band has absolutely everything needed to be a great classic, out there with Omen, Attacker, Judas Priest, Metal Church, Iron Maiden, Jag Panzer, just to name a few. Although I've heard other albums from them probably just as good as this one, I decided to review this one first since its the earliest one I have, and kind of comes off as the most aggressive. The performance here with each musician is top notch, giving this a lot of energy and power. This album is definitely fast, furious riffs, quick combo's of drumming, and great melodic vocals are to be found here.
The one thing that impressed me the most about this album, and half this bands history is vocalist Leather Leone. If I didn't pay attention to the information about this band, and didn't know the vocalist is a woman, I probably would have had absolutely no clue. You can't really tell at all, and she's got an extremely nice and aggressive voice. Her singing could probably be best compared to David Wayne or Mike Howe, both from Metal Church. She can hit those high notes extremely easily, and carries them on effortlessly, and she gives off tons of aggression when needed. Her range is just downright awesome. I really didn't know what to expect when I saw the vocalist was female, but I was completely knocked out of my seat when I finally listened to them. Again, you can't even tell. Then again this could possibly be a minor and pointless detail for many out there. I just honestly have not heard a lot of female vocalists in my time when it comes to metal and my experiences with some (see Scanner's "Scrantropolis" album) weren't the greatest, but my opinion on what they can do changed with Chastain.
There really aren't any bad moments here on this album. The balance is nice, and this is overall top notch fast Heavy Metal. There's enough atmosphere here at times to give them kind of a dark image every once and awhile. There's even a few epic songs on here, like "The Battle of Nevermore". Expect a lot of choruses with the great Leone, but these definitely aren't filled with cheese or too happy for the picky folks. All in all, I think the majority of this band could be seen as Metal Church's sister (hence the female vocals!). The sound and styles are pretty similar, but Chastain manages to come off as slightly more straight forward and possibly easier to get into, not that Metal Church is bad in anyway (trust me, I love them). Definitely a high recommendation for the fans of traditional 80's metal.